Pfizer Sues Viva Viagra Rocket Crackpot Over Trademark

from the you-just-got-him-a-lot-more-attention dept

It's amazing that companies still don't recognize when it's probably best to shackle up the lawyers. A guy in New York who drove around Manhattan with a 25-foot-long fake missile with "Viva Viagra" painted on its side, has been sued by Pfizer, the maker of the drug Viagra for trademark infringement. It's questionable how Pfizer convinced a judge that this is use "in commerce," but apparently it worked as a judge has barred him from driving around with the missile any more. The bigger question, though, is why bother. All this lawsuit has done is draw a lot more attention to this guy and his faux missile. Pfizer's claim that people might be confused into thinking this is an advertisement for Viagra, and that could harm its brand, seems like a long shot at best, but apparently it convinced the judge. Oh, and in case you were wondering (we know you were) why this guy was driving around with the rocket, we'll let him explain: "Once in a while you want to have fun, and that's what it's all about: fun." Don't worry, though, he may end up being back with some other faux rockets, as apparently he's got a few more, including the "Obama-Oh Mama" and the "Viva McCain," which recently got him detained for a few hours by the Secret Service when he drove them around Washington DC.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  •  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 10th, 2008 @ 11:57am

    via Jezebel.com, "Oh, and apparently authorities at the Lincoln Tunnel never checked to see if the missile was real or not when he drove by them on September 8."
    http://jezebel.com/5060750/pfizer-sues-man-over-viva-viagra-rocket--accidental-brunette-gets-la wsuit-trhown-out
    http://www.upi.com/Odd_News/2008/10/08/Man_Roving_Viagra_missile_went_unchecked/UP I-65251223487398/

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    •  
      identicon
      Howard_NYC, Oct 10th, 2008 @ 2:50pm

      DHS... worth every penny...

      Q: how come DHS never did an audit on the attentiveness of Port Authority staff? sigh... DHS... worth every penny...

       

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    identicon
    USBman, Oct 10th, 2008 @ 12:00pm

    Fashionable

    While I agree that this case might seem a bit over the top, it must also be admitted that a company has a legitimate right to have some control over their branding. I agree that frivolous litigation is in fact rampant, but it now seems to be the fashionable thing to point out every single case in which a company sues in order to keep control over their own branding - be mindful of this, and realize that commenting on every case in which a company does so seems just as, if not more, ridiculous!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    •  
      identicon
      ehrichweiss, Oct 10th, 2008 @ 12:36pm

      Re: Fashionable

      Well, they have some control over their branding but they do not have TOTAL control over it in this scope. All the defendant has to do is claim he was essentially making a testimonial for Viagra, which it was no matter how odd. They don't "own" the name in the scope of telling people exactly how they can and cannot use it; they own the right to tell competitors that they might be diluting or infringing on the trademark if they tried to sell, say, Viagra condoms or something but they do NOT have any rights associated with commentary on their trademarked product, and that's what this case is about.

       

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 10th, 2008 @ 12:08pm

    So Advertising on Missile Bad.
    Driving with Missile through town good.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    identicon
    an0m0ly, Oct 10th, 2008 @ 12:16pm

    in commerce

    He's advertising his own (feeble) start-up Jet Angel. He wants to drive cockpits and missiles around with logos painted on them, like those billboard trucks. So actually, yes, it is use "in commerce". Although he disingenuously claimed to be doing it all "in fun", he's actually implying that Pfizer hired his company, so you should too.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    •  
      identicon
      Anonymous Coward, Oct 10th, 2008 @ 12:26pm

      Re: in commerce

      okay that makes more sense then. If it was just some random yahoo I'd be scratching my head at how this made any sense.

       

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 10th, 2008 @ 12:49pm

    Pfeizer is getting free advertising as well (Thank you TD). I think the missle guy was "misguided" in using Pfeizer or any other real company but the net is both get some advertising and all it cost was some lawyer fees who are already being paid (just made to work a little).

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    icon
    Killer_Tofu (profile), Oct 10th, 2008 @ 12:55pm

    Lol

    This story is hilarious, it really is.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 10th, 2008 @ 1:23pm

    Artists creating works of art?

    I wonder how Campbell's Soup negotiated with Andy Warhol. Whatever it was they did, it seemed to work.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    identicon
    Anon Cow, Oct 10th, 2008 @ 1:50pm

    How is driving a giant rocket with "Viva Viagra" on the side NOT covered under the parody exception?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    identicon
    Arye Sachs, Oct 11th, 2008 @ 10:50am

    VIAGRA - Pfizer - Arye Sachs-Fun

    Hi Guys.
    Thank you all. Let me take a few minutes of your time to explain:
    1. The name Viagra has become a generic name. My defense papers will prove it at the trial. the judge issued a TRO only (Temporary restraining order) for the use of the name Viagra on my cockpits and missiles. Anyone of you who would like to see the defense papers - Please email me and I will be more than happy to send it to you: Sachs4000@Yahoo.com it will show why any action by me or others can not cause damage to Pfizer reputation or their bottom line. Why do you think Pfizer attorney offered me (they show up in court 6-7 of them each time...) to drop the case THREE TIMES if I drop my demand to use their name under the first amendment and under the Generic rule?
    2. As I told the judge It all started as fun. I asked to keep doing the same but this time with no signs to connect the art to JetAngel.Com, saying that - after the above generic issue will be proven - it will be free for all. What Pfizer did with their law suit - they gave me a coverage around the world that a few million dollars wouldn't have given me and for that I am thankful.
    3. I sure will be out there with fun and with public service (separately) about the federal fraud investigation and class action suit of 10% of all women taking LOPITOR getting heart attack - Google it and find out for yourself.
    Until next time:
    The Michael Moore of the Pharmaceutical industry.
    Arye Sachs

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    identicon
    John, Oct 12th, 2008 @ 2:36pm

    On a side note...

    Can someone provide a definitive answer on whether Pzifer is using Elvis' "Viva Las Vegas" song as the "Viva Viagra" motto? Because if Pzifer legally bought the rights, then how low can the Elvis estate sink? It's bas enough they're selling the song to a big-pharm company, but to a pill that helps with sex??

    What's next, selling the rights to "Blue Suede Shoes" to a condom company?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    identicon
    Who's this guy kidding?, Oct 13th, 2008 @ 9:21am

    "The Michael Moore of the Pharmaceutical industry."?

    PUH-LEASE!

    More like a 2-bit carnival sideshow.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    •  
      identicon
      Arye Sachs, Oct 14th, 2008 @ 7:30am

      VIAGRA - Pfizer - Arye Sachs-Fun

      Oh Ya?
      Did you check www.JetAngel.Com?
      Go to "Updates" - "Missile tour to NYC" and scroll all the way down (the last 4 Photoshop illustrations). If your mother was on LIPITOR and got a heart attack (Google "Pfizer Fraud" and "Pfizer lawsuits" and Pfizer investigation" "LIPITOR heart attack" you will understand why I will mobilize 30 missile and 25 cockpits around the country next month with these messages.
      Also - did you ever dreamed about what goes behind the closed doors of Enron, WorldCom, Lehman Brothers, AIG (they just took 78 Billion of your tax money and went on $500.000 WEEK END RETREAT...) Now Pfizer is dealing with human life while defrauding the Federal Government and the public and this is not money - these are lives.
      Any more questions why I am doing it?

       

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      •  
        identicon
        Willton, Oct 15th, 2008 @ 3:00pm

        Re: VIAGRA - Pfizer - Arye Sachs-Fun

        I don't know about your conspiracy theory diatribe, but your genericism claim is a loser. If your entire case is based on Viagra being generic for erectile dysfuntion drugs, then you've got a very steep hill to climb.

         

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        •  
          icon
          johnc (profile), Nov 25th, 2013 @ 4:31am

          Re: Re: VIAGRA - Pfizer - Arye Sachs-Fun

          Viagra is very special product for Men's. If you are playing with it then you will be play with Men's life. So have to handle it very smoothly.

           

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    identicon
    Who's this guy kidding?, Oct 14th, 2008 @ 7:55am

    Yeah, the website looks like amateur hour. Very unprofessional.

    I understand why you are doing this. You are doing it because they sued you.

    It's called "sour grapes".

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    identicon
    Arye Sachs, Oct 14th, 2008 @ 9:09am

    VIAGRA - Pfizer - Arye Sachs-Fun

    As I said - It is all about the first amendment and the right for free speech and YOU also have the right under that amendment to express your opinion. It is a free country - I do not agree nor like what you say but I am happy that we both live in a country that lets you and me express our opinions.
    Arye Sachs

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    identicon
    Arye Sachs, Oct 18th, 2008 @ 4:38pm

    VIAGRA - Pfizer - Arye Sachs-Fun

    Pfizer Agrees to Pay $894 Million in Bextra, Celebrex Settlement
    Posted by Scott Hensley



    (Photo: Mary Altaffer/AP)
    With all the problems Pfizer has with R&D, politicians carping about prices and a rising sea of generics, we almost forgot about the mountain of litigation looming over the company from the sale of painkillers Bextra and Celebrex.

    But this morning the drugmaker said it has reached agreements in principle that would settle 90% of personal injury suits that claim those medicines caused heart attacks and strokes. The tab: $745 million. That’s a couple of hundred million more than some lawyers had guessed recently that the company would end up paying to put the lawsuits behind it.

    Pfizer will also fork over $60 million to Attorneys General in 33 states and the District of Columbia, who have filed suits over Pfizer’s promotion of Bextra, the son of Celebrex that was withdrawn from the market in 2005 over cardiovascular risks and some life-threatening skin reactions. At the time the FDA also said Bextra didn’t have any proven advantage over other similar painkillers.

    The remaining $89 million will resolve class actions alleging fraud in connection with the promotion of Celebrex and Bextra.

    It’s small change compared with Merck’s $4.85 billion settlement of lawsuits over Vioxx, the problem child in the group of painkillers knows as Cox-2 inhibitors. State and federal judges have ruled that plaintiffs have failed to present reliable scientific evidence proving that Celebrex can cause heart attacks or strokes at its most commonly prescribed dose.

    Amy Schulman, Pfizer’s top lawyer (other than Jeff Kindler), told the WSJ the company is hopeful that it can resolve the remaining 8% to 10% of the Celebrex and Bextra personal injury cases that weren’t part of the settlement. None of those cases have reached the trial stage.

    Permalink | Trackback URL: http://blogs.wsj.com/health/2008/10/17/pfizer-agrees-to-pay-894-million-in-bextra-celebrex-settlemen t/trackback/
    Save & Share: Yahoo! Buzz| Share on Facebook | Del.icio.us | Digg this | Email This | Print
    Read more: Product liability, Drugs



    Comments (Click to track comments on this post)
    Report offensive comments to healthblog@wsj.com
    This is one of the reasons why drugs cost so much. There is $894 million in settlement charges, and probably another $100 million in legal fees to Pfizer. Basically, a billion dollars was used to fight these frivolous lawsuits. There is no scientific evidence that these medications increased the amount of heart attacks in patients, whom were taking these medications.

    Comment by Pfizer employee - October 17, 2008 at 11:47 am
    You are obviously a brain washed Pfizer employee. Start making safe and effective drugs and you wont be sued. It is as simple as that.

    Comment by Professor - October 17, 2008 at 12:10 pm
    These law suits are cutting into my bottom line. I am only getting a 75 million dollar bonus this year plus stock options. But my compensation is NOT one of the reasons drugs cost so much.

    Comment by Corporate CEO - October 17, 2008 at 12:20 pm
    I agree with Pfizer employee. I drive around all day in a company car and give free sports tickets and dinners to doctors so they will buy pharma drugs from me that there patients dont need. It is a tough job and I only make 150,000 grand a year. If we could somehow eliminate the right of patients to recover when they are injured by unsafe and defective drugs, I am sure I can clear 200 next year.

    Comment by Big Pharma Sales Representative - October 17, 2008 at 12:26 pm
    if we had fewer miss-leading “papers”, it would be much easier for the companies to make better drugs for us.

    Comment by to "professor" - October 17, 2008 at 12:27 pm
    I was prescribed Bextra for Arthritis. Shortly after I began taking it, I developed toxic epidermal necrolysis. The skin on my face turned red and peeled off. It has not grown back yet and I see a skin doctor once a week for treatment. I cant even look in the mirror at myself. But I guess I shouldn’t do anything about it so the price of drugs wont go up and the pharmaceutical companies wont go bankrupt.

    Comment by Rebecca Allen - October 17, 2008 at 12:34 pm
    No one should be allowed to sue drug compnaies and they should be exempt from all lawsuits. I dont care if the person loses an arm, it is the patients fault for not taking the drug properly.

    Comment by Federalist - October 17, 2008 at 12:40 pm
    it’s sad to see comments by people that have no understanding of industry. I at one time worked for Pfizer in pharmacovigilence and reviewed many adverse event reports for Celebrex/Bextra. The majority are frivolous. I am also a cardiologist and know many of the key opinion leaders in the field, and you will be hard pressed to find definitive data that these drugs cause heart disease in patients that have no cardiac risk factors.
    The cost of doing business for pharma is expensive. It’s not the pens,pads and give aways; it’s R&D, pharmacovigilence that cost the most.
    I am the first one to say if a drug is bad and does harm then we should pay for it, but the bulk of the class action suits we see are purely out of greed of a few high powered attorneys. Lets get real and stop bashing the industry. Mr. Kindler has had the toughest job of any pharma CEO since he took over and is performing admirably. I would go back to work under him anytime.

    Comment by gabate - October 17, 2008 at 1:03 pm
    While you argue over profits and losses, our family has experienced the pain of losing our beloved mother to the side effects of this drug, Bextra.
    I too worked 15 years in the Pharaceutical, with Smith Kline & French (Glaxo SmithKline). While employeed by the company 34 patients died from liver disease on Selacryn. No one was talking about the families that lost their loved ones. The FDA recalled the drug and SmithKline was disgraced for a while, for not disclosing this information to the FDA in a timely fashion. BUT NOBODY SAID, “HOW SAD, 34 PATIENTS DIED!”

    Comment by Cinda Steiner - October 17, 2008 at 1:14 pm
    It is sad to see comments by people who are still buying into the ruse Big Pharma pulls over on the public. When a company knowingly withholds information from the FDA and the public regarding serious side effects a drug can cause, they should be held accountable. Period. Especially when the motivation for withholding the damaging information is putting profits before lives. That is truly sad.

    Comment by Tony Abate - October 17, 2008 at 1:36 pm
    I wonder if gabate would defend this too?

    “Alan Hesketh, a former Pfizer executive, was sentenced today to six and a half years in prison for possessing child pornography”

    Comment by Joe the Plumber - October 17, 2008 at 1:42 pm
    I too was burned over large areas of my body by taking Bextra which I took a for osteoarthritis.

    The SJS foundation and the TENS and SJS groups at yahoo have had to fight for years to get this known because the Billion dollar lawyers at Pfizer have fought to keep it from proceeding.

    4.8 Billion settlement in one suit and nearly a billion here… sure doesn’t sound like there was nothing wrong with the product now does it?

    I for one would like to have had our day in court so we could parade the thousands of pictures of what this product did before the face of a jury’s.

    Pfizer will have wished they could settle for only 894 million.

    For support got to the SJS foundation website or the TENS/SJS group at yahoo.com.

    Comment by Wyattbuchanan - October 17, 2008 at 2:02 pm
    I also was very badly burned by being forced to take Bextra by the drug company. I had burns across my head, neck and chest area. As a result, my chest sunk in and almost disaapeared. The company tried to blame me instead of taking repsonsibility. Shameless.

    Comment by Brett Weir - October 17, 2008 at 3:18 pm
    Joe the Plumber - Congratulations, you took the sensationalist media’s piece of garbage news and savored every last word. That story about Hesketh has about as much relevance to Pfizer and its financial performance as your genius post does to this blog story, keep trying though.

    Comment by Wake Up America - October 17, 2008 at 4:10 pm
    pfizer is guilty as charge. no amount of money can replace your love ones. shame on them.

    Comment by james de mello - October 17, 2008 at 10:18 pm
    Why can’t people take care of themselves? If Americans would give up the fast food and live a healthier lifestyle we wouldn’t need all these drugs. I believe the drug companies are in cuhoots with the fast food companies to make us fatter and sicker by the day. I wouldn’t be surprised if they started giving these drugs out in happy meals. I feel for people like Brett Weir. I imagine his eye sight is effected by these drugs as well. He sounds like a nice former barrel chested man.

    Comment by Steven Stemasterson - October 18, 2008 at 2:19 am
    Sounds like you would not mind if one of your loved ones had a severe side effect from a drug, especially if that severe side effect was not communicated to their doctor. I know I would not be a happy camper.
    It is illegal to go to the drug manufacture’s headquarters and burn it down, that’s why there are courts of law.
    It’s not asking too much for these companies to just be honest and to do what is right.

    Comment by James R - October 18, 2008 at 8:26 am
    And Pfizer has the CHUTZPA to sue me for using the name Viagra for fun? (Google my name: Arye Sachs)
    How about 10% of all women taking lipitor getting a heard attack?
    They spend twice on marketing than on R & D. If they will reverse it - they will have less problems.

    Comment by Arye Sachs - October 18, 2008 at 7:06 pm

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    identicon
    David, Nov 30th, 2008 @ 12:41am

    Fair Use Doctrine

    The Fair Use Doctrine allows you to use a trademark for descriptive purposes and not as a trademark.

    A good test is to look the word up in a dictionary and see if the word has another meaning. For example, the trademark Google has another meaning, which pertains "to searching for information about a specific person through the Google search engine". Thus, if I use the word "Google me", I would be protected by the Fair Use Doctrine.

    However, the word "Viagra" has no other meaning in the dictionary. It only refers to the Viagra pill. And the Internet does not show any other meaning to the word Viagra other then its dictionary meaning.

    I do not think the missile guy is going to win his lawsuit.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


Add Your Comment

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here
Get Techdirt’s Daily Email
Save me a cookie
  • Note: A CRLF will be replaced by a break tag (<br>), all other allowable HTML will remain intact
  • Allowed HTML Tags: <b> <i> <a> <em> <br> <strong> <blockquote> <hr> <tt>
Follow Techdirt
A word from our sponsors...
Essential Reading
Techdirt Reading List
Techdirt Insider Chat
A word from our sponsors...
Recent Stories
A word from our sponsors...

Close

Email This